Make your reservations now + head to Oxford, MS for MLK weekend

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Eating out in Oxford, MLK weekend
Eating out in Oxford, MS. Photo via Erin Austen Abbott

Nobody needs to be convinced that a change of scenery can be a good thing these days. Did you know that Oxford, MS is less than a three-hour drive from Birmingham? Make your reservation now and head over for the long MLK Day weekend (or any time) to enjoy Civil Rights-era history, the great outdoors and local restaurants.

But first, book your hotel—here are 3 options in Oxford for MLK weekend

Graduate Oxford: whimsical + fun

While The Graduate has hotels in college towns across the country, this one is pure Ole Miss. Here’s why you want to consider this one for your stay:

  • Location: historic Oxford Square at 400 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
  • Amenities:
    • Cabin 82: This hotel’s coffee shop/breakfast area is modeled after cabins at the Neshoba County Fair.
    • The Coop: this rooftop bar was named after football great Archie Manning’s oldest son Cooper.
    • The lobby: pink hardwood floors and a lobby bar will entice you to kick back and rest awhile.
    • Complimentary bicycles: ride around town and see the sights.
    • Pets: the hotel is pet-friendly, so bring yours along.

If colorful, whimsical and fun is your vibe, reserve your spot at Graduate Oxford now.

The Chancellor’s House: luxurious + elegant

The Chancellor’s House is a boutique hotel of 38 rooms and suites outfitted with spacious clawfoot soaking tubs.

  • Location: Oxford Square, at 425 S Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
  • Pets: bring your pets—they’ve got dog-walking and add-on grooming services for your pup.
  • Amenities:

If elegant luxury is what you’re longing for, book Chancellor’s House today.

The Inn at Ole Miss: home away from home

It doesn’t get any more convenient to the University than the Inn at Ole Miss. This two-part hotel is the kind of place where you can make yourself at home.

  • Location: University of Mississippi campus, one mile from Oxford Square, at 120 Alumni Dr, University, MS 38677
  • The original part: 97 standard hotel rooms—each uniquely decorated.
  • The Tower: this 2008 addition features 49 one- and two-bedroom suites. Each has a separate living room and an additional half bath.
  • Amenities:
    • McCormick’s Bar & Grill: this eatery, which opened in Fall 2020, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Look for a new wood bar-top, currently being created by Ole Miss alum and HGTV star Ben Napier in early 2021.

If campus living suits your fancy, The Inn at Ole Miss is ready to welcome you.

Civil Rights History in Oxford for MLK weekend

James Meredith Statue

Between 1960 and 1962, according to The History Channel, James Meredith applied to the University of Mississippi multiple times. By 1962, Meredith, with help from the NAACP, won a Supreme Court case that gave him the right to attend.

Mississippi’s governor, students and others were vehemently opposed to his admission, leading to the riots of 1962. To quell the violence, attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered no less than 31,000 federal and state agents to accompany Meredith to the University. He enrolled on October 1, 1962 and graduated a year later.

In 2006, more than 40 years after the University of Mississippi’s integration, this monument was built and dedicated. You’ll also find a Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker between the Lyceum and the Meredith statue.

The Lyceum building

The Lyceum, Oxford MLK weekend
The Lyceum at Ole Miss with its imposing facade. Photo via Visit Oxford MS

During the Civil War, this imposing building, completed in 1848, served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Fast forward and it’s long been the center of the University’s campus. In 1962, during integration, it was the scene of a riot that left bullet marks on the front columns—look closely and you’ll still see them today.

Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center

Burns Methodist Episcopal Church, Oxford MLK weekend
The Burns Methodist Episcopal Church has a stories history. Photo via Visit Oxford MS

Since 2006, this Mississippi Landmark has served as a museum commemorating African American history in Oxford and Lafayette County.

Originally, Burns Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by freed African Americans who settled in the area known as “Freemen Town” after the end of the Civil War.

The current building was erected in 1910 and played a major role in the lives of many African Americans until 1974, when the congregation moved to a new location.

Under new ownership, the historic building was called the Belfry and used for various offices until the last owner, author John Grisham, donated the building to the Oxford-Lafayette Heritage Foundation in 2002.

He asked that the Heritage Foundation work with the Oxford Development Association to ensure the future of the historic property.

Location: 710 Jackson Ave E, Oxford, MS 38655

Freedmen Town Area

Freedmen Town, Oxford MLK weekend
Freedmen Town, in Oxford, Miss. on Friday, February 19, 2016.

Not far from the Burns-Belfry building, you’ll find a historical market depicting “Freedmen Town.” According to the Mississippi Civil Rights Project, the part of Oxford between North 7th Street and 5th Street extending South from Price to Jackson Avenue was originally called Freemantown.

Oral history says that after the Civil War, freed slaves bought land in the area and began to build a small community. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History placed the historical marker in 1996.

Places to enjoy outdoors in Oxford for MLK weekend

One of the great things about planning a getaway to Oxford is that there are plenty of places to get outside and move—even in January.

Whirlpool Trails

Whirlpool Trails Oxford MS MLK weekend
What a lovely spot for a hike or a run. Photo via University of Mississippi Campus Recreation

Love to run, bike or walk? Head to the gravel-lined trails known as both the Whirlpool Trails and the South Campus Trails. The main path offers a flat, wide eight-mile loop stretching over the hills by the highway. At the end of the trail, you can climb a fire tower that’s the highest point in Oxford.

Runners and hikers, choose your route and challenge yourself.

Pat Lamar Park

Pat Lamar, Oxford MLK weekend
I want to go there. Preferably on a boat. Photo via Visit Oxford MS

Named after Oxford’s first female mayor, Pat Lamar Park was designed as an outdoor arboretum. Visitors can enjoy:

  • greenery
  • walking trails
  • garden features
  • quiet lake
  • sculptures from local artists, as part of the Yokna Sculpture Trail

Location: Pat Lamar Park, Oxford, MS 38655

Avent Park

You’ll find something for the whole family at Avent Park, including:

  • walking trail
  • 2 playground areas for kids
  • a picnic pavilion
  • 4 lighted tennis courts
  • a baseball field
  • several quiet areas

Location: 120 Park Dr, Oxford, MS 38655

Restaurants to enjoy in Oxford for MLK weekend

Oxford has some fabulous restaurants to help you enjoy your weekend getaway even more.

Proud Larry’s

Larry’s has been an Oxford staple for over 25 years, and has hosted musicians such as Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, John Mayer and the Black Keys.

  • Family-friendly menu: lunch + dinner.
  • Limited-capacity, socially distant live music: follow them on Instagram for details.
  • Menu:
    • Freshly-made pizzas, including the Fat Larry (a local favorite)
    • Salads
    • Burgers
    • Pastas
    • Po-boys
  • Location: 211 S Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655

Blind Pig

Head downstairs to the pub-like “basement of dreams.”

Menu faves:

  • BBQ in a quesadilla, nachos or sliders
  • Homemade pork skins and potato chips
  • Po-boys and sandwiches

Wash it all down with something from their large beer selection. Bonus: you can play pool and enjoy live music throughout the week.

Location: 105 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655

Snackbar

Snackbar is the brainchild of James Beard Award winning chefs John Currence and Vishwesh Bhatt.

The mix: French bistro + North Mississippi café + a bit of Indian influence, with the atmosphere of an English hunt club.

Highlights:

  • Oysters flown in daily
  • Frequent menu changes
  • Mixologists’ creative takes on classic cocktails (e.g. an Old Fashioned with bacon bitters)
  • Extensive list of top shelf whiskies + glass wine program

Location: 721 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655

Saint Leo

While Saint Leo Restaurant‘s only been around a few years, it’s caught the attention of the James Beard Foundation not once, but twice:

  • “Best New Restaurant” in 2017
  • “Outstanding Bar Program” semifinalist in 2019

Saint Leo’s is best known for its delectable wood-fired Italian cuisine, and they have a luscious list of libations. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Wood-fired pizzas
  • Marinated olives
  • Chickpea crepes known as farinata
  • Seasonally-changing pastas

When it comes to cocktails, each option is intentionally crafted down to the most delectable detail. And, we hear the Prosecco Pop—a raspberry and mint popsicle topped with Adami prosecco—is the perfect way to toast to a weekend getaway. 🥂

Location: 721 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655

Ready to book your trip to Oxford, Mississippi?

Visit Oxford MS has all the resources you need on their website, Facebook + Instagram.

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